In a speech to mark Nowrouz, the Persian New Year, Iran’s Supreme Leader has warned that his country will hit back at any attack from Israel or the US.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spoke as many Iranians fear there could be military action to take out nuclear sites the West suspects are aimed at making atomic bombs. Iran insists it wants civilian nuclear energy only.
Khamenei also urged people to buy domestically-made goods to defeat escalating trade sanctions imposed by the West. They have taken a heavy toll, but in his New Year address President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the government was working to boost the economy
“My government stands by all Iranians, in good times and in bad,” Ahmadinejad declared.
As Iranians celebrate the coming of spring, President Barack Obama accused their government of imposing an ‘electronic curtain’ of censorship. In a video message, he pledged new US steps to ease their access to the internet.
“The Iranian people are the heirs to a great and ancient civilization,” Obama said. “Like people everywhere, they have the universal right to think and speak for themselves. The Iranian government has a responsibility to respect these rights, just as it has a responsibility to meet its obligations with regard to its nuclear programme. Let me say again that if the Iranian government pursues a responsible path, it will be welcomed once more among the community of nations and the Iranian people will have greater opportunities to prosper.”